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How to Host an Oscar Party

Last updated: March 27, 2024

Tara realized that:

  • She likes movies,
  • She likes hosting parties, and
  • She loves the Oscars

So she decided to host a party around it! She’s been doing it for over 20 years now.

I interviewed her to get all of her best tips and tricks so you can host your own Oscar party.

Tara always has name tags. It is one of the reasons she connected so deeply with The 2-Hour Cocktail Party.

But she also combines an icebreaker on the name tag! Such as:

  • If I were to win an Oscar, it would be for ‘Best…’ (guests can choose anything they wish!)
  • In the movie of my life, I would cast {insert celebrity name} to play me

Warning: The hardest part about hosting an Oscar party is that it’s a very specific theme. Not everyone wants to watch the Oscars or even cares about movies. But if you make it clear that there’s something for everyone and it’s about fun and connection more than anything else it will make the party appealing to a wider audience. We’ll show you how.

Oscar Preview Party

Another challenging part about hosting an Oscar Party is it happens late on a Sunday night! This less-than-ideal time slot tends to pose attendance and logistical challenges.

This past year, Tara hosted her party on the night before the Oscars.

It was a huge success! Hosting the party the night before allowed her to do a few unique things which she thinks were very helpful:

  1. Saturday night, easier attendance. Nobody has to worry about leaving the party early or staying up too late on Sunday which lifts some of the previous guest list constraints.
  2. More time for connection and focused time to watch the actual Oscars. Everyone gets to celebrate and connect a bit better the night before, then watch the Oscars at their leisure on Sunday night.

Who attends the parties?

Friends, family, co-workers, friends of friends, you name it! Some people have attended for many years. Others are first-time attendees. “It depends what’s going on in my life and who I want to invite each year!”

What type of food do you serve?

Tara prides herself on the food and the menu! She creates puns for the names of her dishes.

Pasta favorites include:

  • MozzarelLa-La Land
  • The Curious Quiche of Benjamin Button
  • Call Meatball Your Name
  • Bok Choy Story 3

“Many people show up just for the food! Even though The 2-Hour Cocktail Party formula recommends against food for a happy hour, I feel strongly about serving it at an Oscar party. There’s enough moments where people are sitting and watching for it to work well.”

Dress Code and Decorations

Black, gold, yellow, and red. These colors match the theme of the Oscars.

Many people I know who also host Oscar parties like to ask guests to dress up in Hollywood glam, and while it is certainly one way to go, keep in mind that it’s a long night of sitting and eating.

I like to encourage my guests to dress comfortably and lean into the color scheme (or something sparkly!)  instead.

IMG 20180304 173012 1 1
Tara wanted to create a stylish atmosphere, so she used this red carpet background to create a DIY photo booth for guests complete with props and signs

Games and Activities

Less is more here. You’ve already got your main activity (watching the Oscars) taken care of for you,and if you go with the icebreaker name tag idea, your icebreaker is taken care of too. So you don’t need too much more. Of course, make sure that you’ve got your Oscar ballots ready for guests to make their guesses on who will win each category.

Fun tip: you can always find printable Oscar ballots ready to download online, and to save time on Oscar night (and allow guests who are unable to attend to participate) you can even send the ballot out ahead of time along with one of your reminder messages if you wish.

If you plan on doing any additional games and activities, remember to make the games inclusive of all your guests – from the diehard Oscar/movie fans right through to those who have never watched the Oscars or haven’t seen any of the nominated movies. Things like:

Oscar Bingo

  • Get a bingo if a winner cries!
  • Find someone at the party who has attended for 5 or more years

Oscar-themed versions of popular games

  • ‘Game of Things’ (eg. Things you wouldn’t want to overhear in the bathroom at the Oscars, things they should really give out Oscars for…)
  • Charades or pictionary – little ‘mini-games’ that you can pick up and play during 2-3 minute commercial breaks are perfect

Games based on the Oscar categories

  • Best song or score – have guests guess the famous movie soundtrack, or play ‘what’s the missing lyric’ to popular songs
  • Best production design – have guests spot the differences between two photos
  • Best film editing – change a word or two in a famous movie quote and have guests answer give you the correct line
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Celebrating the night in true Oscar style! Lights, Camera, Bingo!

Lessons and Learnings

Make it appealing to all

Not everyone wants to watch the Oscars or even cares about movies, but if you make it clear that there’s something for everyone and it’s about fun and connection more than anything else it will make the party appealing to a wider audience

Serve good food

Food always brings people together! People love food and drinks, especially when they’ve got fun names!

Get nerdy with it

Don’t be afraid to get nerdy with it! The Oscars are so steeped in nostalgia and tradition that if you lean into it, your guests will too. Get dramatic, but also keep it lighthearted!

Conclusion

Hosting an Oscar Party is more than just about movies; it’s about creating an unforgettable experience.

Tara, a seasoned host with over 20 years of Oscar parties, shared her tips and tricks for making your own celebration a blockbuster hit. From interactive name tags to a creative menu inspired by movie titles.

Whether it’s the timing of an Oscar Preview Party or inclusive games, she makes it clear: it’s about fun, connection, and celebrating the Oscars in style.

Hello, My name is Nick Gray. In my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, I provide helpful guidance on how to host a great party for any event. I wrote this book to support anyone attempting to meet new people and develop closer bonds with their community.

When is your party? Send me an email and I will give you some bonus tips, including a pre-party checklist that you can print out. Plus I’ll answer any question you have, free of charge. I love talking about parties and I’m on a mission to help 500 people host their first party.

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About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

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